Book Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

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Published: 2011

So I am going absolutely gaga over this series and I am not going to lie, immediately after reading this book I had to physically pull myself from ordering the remaining books in the series from the Amazon page. Yes, I think the last time I got such a thrill from reading a book was from the thriller Gone Girl that I read last summer. It’s definitely a different type of thriller with Gone Girl, but both leave me hanging after every chapter and after the ride was done I was left astounded and a little empty. What was I going to do for the rest of my life without that book in my life?

So, just a quick like synopsis here, the Maze Runner survivors are back, this time facing even more gruelling and life-threatening tasks than the ones in the Maze. Similar to the first book, the scorch trials that they must endure not only tests their personal mental and physical strength but also tests their relationships. And let me tell you, there are going to be some shockers in there!

Maybe because the reader has the ability to see into Thomas’ thoughts, but I have to say I prefer his character in the book than in the film. He seemed very distant, unlikeable and acted too much like a stock hero character, but in the book I feel like we get a better sense of his personality and his objectives. I can also appreciate the fact that he’s not perfect.

I have to say that in the thriller/dystopian genre, I am not sure I have read something as thrilling. I much prefer this to the Hunger Games actually, and I can guarantee that once you start you will not be able to put it down until you have read the final word in the book.

Having said that, it’s no C.S Lewis or Tolstoy, meaning that although the diction encapsulates it’s readers it’s far from poetic or beautiful. There are no hidden metaphors or memorable/witty quotes that summarize some aspect of life. I definitely have to say that this book is a very entertaining and pleasant read, but I don’t think you will find any lingering after thoughts (aside from “wow, what a thrill” or “I need to know what happens”). I suppose that is why I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Have you started the Maze Runner series? What are your thoughts so far?

Teaser Tuesday: July 21

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teasertuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

So this week I could not resist buying a few books off of Amazon, mostly because the price was just so right! I got the two remaining books of the Maze Runner series, both of them for under £5! Such a steal deal! I’ve also been hearing a lot about The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, so I ended up picking that one up for£6. So really looking forward to my reading list over the next few weeks. Today I started reading The Death Cure so here is a a little snippet from the book for ya!

“Brenda turned back around, a syringe in her left hand, its nozzle pointing up, her thumb on the trigger. A yellowish liquid showed in the small window on the side.

‘Okay, Thomas. We’re going to do this really fast. Are you ready?’

He nodded at her, not sure what she meant but determined to be prepared.

‘Good,’ she replied. ‘You better be.'” (54)

Book Review: Obasan by Joy Kogawa

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Published: 1981

As you may already know, I had the chance to go back home for a couple of weeks and so have had the opportunity to bring back some of my favourite books with me. Therefore, I’ve been having a bit of a throwback month. This book, and my projected reading list for this month is going to be all books that I have read for school (either high school or university). Some of them I remember with great fondness, and, a few I must confess, I can recall very little. It’s interesting how some books resonate with you at a certain point in your life, while other books you have to be “ready” for so to speak.

I am stalling a little here, lets get down to the review for this book. So, embarrassingly enough, this was one of the books I had to read in high school and I couldn’t recall a single event from. In fact I had thought the main character was named Obasan as the title would suggest. WRONG!

Obasan is actually the grandmother of the main character that we are following on this journey, who is called Naomi. We trace back her past as a Japanese Canadian growing up on the west coast of Canada during the Second World War and beyond. It’s actually shocking at how persecuted and awfully treated the Japanese Canadians were in a supposed free country during this time. The government at the time ‘justified’ the labour camps that young and old Japanese women and men were sent to, by claiming they were a threat to Canadian security (during World War Two Japan was seen as an enemy) and therefore enemy aliens. An absolutely absurd claim. We follow Naomi’s life, from being molested by her neighbour at age 8, to her mom moving back to Japan never to be seen again, to the constant running she and her family had to do away from the authorities and how those experiences have marked her adult self.

Her aunt, Aunt Emily, dedicates her life to finding evidence and bring to light the way the Japanese Canadians have been mistreated by the Canadian government during that time in history.

“The power of the government, Nomi, Power. See how palpable it is? They took away our land, the stores, the businesses , the boats, the houses – everything. Broke up our families, told us who we could see, where we could live, what we could do, what time we could leave our houses, censored our letters, exiled us for no crime. They took our livelihood -“(38)

It’s a really interesting dynamic and I find it extremely intriguing to read how each character in the book has been scarred and how they have chosen to deal with their marred past. It’s absolutely terrible to think that these things actually happened to Japanese Canadians during that time. Even though the book is technically a fictional story, the author, Joy Kogawa, wanted to make it clear that is was based on historical events and that many of the persons named are real.

I found myself getting more curious as the plot went on, and even though silence is one of the biggest themes of the novels that didn’t turn me off. It actually intrigued me and I felt that it was woven very well with Naomi, as well as the dark events in Canada’s history. I definitely feel that there is a certain silence about that theme about in Canada to this very day, as we try to grapple with our darker past.

I am curious to know, have you ever read a book whose theme was silence? Have you read this book? What did you get out of it?

Wednesday Wondering: Ummm, where have you been?

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SO, this lovely July Wednesday I find myself wondering. What happened? Where did I go? Why did I seem to drop off the face of WordPress land? I will attempt to answer these question here. I over the past few months I asked myself the these very same questions. Several legit alibis popped into my head.

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  1. I travelled back to beautiful British Columbia for over two weeks at the end of April
  2. Prior to embarking on my journey back home I had to prep, pack and catch up with work before taking off on my holiday (and then after getting back too!)
  3. On a daily basis I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen (not for leisure but for work 😉 )
  4. Feeling the pressure of blogging

I do feel as though the first two defences are pretty legit. I had some “real world” issues to set straight. Before that trip I had not been home for over a year, and that in itself has been a test as I’ve always felt I’ve been very close with my family. Then during my trip home I wanted to spend that precious and rare time with my friends and family. Obviously then, after my 16 day vacay coming back and getting into my old routines was a bit more challenging…

So lets say April-May are legit excuses. So then what happened in June? Do I have a real answer? I am not too sure. I do feel like the pressure of committing to a blog was begin to be too much (does anyone else ever feel this?). I felt myself being forced and pressured into staying on schedule, reading a minimum number of books each month (regardless of the sheer volume of the book or personal matters) and the whole experience was becoming a chore instead of being enjoyable and fun. I did feel myself reading not out of delight but because I needed “to read at least 150 pages from that book to stay on track” or I “needed to start a new book quickly because I still didn’t have a quote for Teaser Tuesday”. That isn’t really what I set out to do on this blog. I set out to connect and continue my passion for all things literature, not create a headache for myself!

That’s not to say that every blog that I’ve ever posted became a chore. Not by any means at all! Majority of the time I really enjoy it (trust me I am not one of those girls that can do something they don’t like for long periods of time), it’s just sometimes life gets in the way and other times one just needs a break.

Moving on to reason number three: I spent a lot of my day starring and typing at a laptop screen. I absolutely love my job, but one of the necessities of it is using the computer for a full working day. That is a lot of expose to the computer screen. Some days just spending another hour looking at the screen, outside the working day, would drive me crazy. Plus, I can’t imagine it’s good for my eyes.

Verdict of my musings and wonderings this Wednesday? Moving forward I want to really try to keep to a regular schedule, but also accept that some weeks it just isn’t going to happen, but not let myself get down about that. I feel like in the past year I have accomplished a lot more than I ever thought possible and looking back on everything that I have managed to publish on this blog makes me feel really proud! i want to keep in contact with the reading community and share my thoughts on book all shapes and sizes!

For those of you who have stuck by me, and have not given up on me despite my absence, I am forever grateful and I hope to not disappoint in the future again! You guys are amazing!

Does anyone else ever feel this sort of ‘blog pressure’, or am I just a strange person? As a blogger do you think you put any pressure on yourself? Did you find anything to combat it?

Teaser Tuesday: March 31

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

This next week or so I will be reading a hefty biography of Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang. I thought of giving myself a little extra time to read this book because this Easter weekend I will be heading down to do some skiing for about four days. Woot woot! I am actually really excited about this book, and I have been looking forward to reading it mostly because I am interested in learning about Chinese history. I know so little about that ancient part of the world it’s quite embarrassing, and have always wanted to discover a little more about it. So I am excited to get started!

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“Prostrating himself before her, the prince talked for an half and hour. An irate Cixi told him off: ‘With the border situation like this, you are talking about birthday presents! It shouldn’t be on the agenda at such a time; why are you bothering me with this business?'” (163)

What are you reading this Tuesday? Share your teasers with me!

Book Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

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Published: 2014

I’ve read the first bestseller by “Robert Galbraith” aka JK Rowling, The Cuckoo’s Calling and thoroughly enjoyed the read and so I was excited to pick up the next novel in the series. Honestly, based on some of the reviews that I have read, it seems I was fairly lucky not to have the influence of the Harry Potter world creeping into my head as I read both the books, as a lot of people couldn’t seem to adjust.

I do have to give Rowling credit here though, the voice of the The Silkworm’s narrator can’t be compared to that of Harry Potter. She does a very good job in distancing herself from that Harry Potter world, not only in genre and plot but also in her writing style. I did not see any resemblance between the two novels, with The Silkworm dealing with adult subjects as opposed to the adolescent woes of Harry Potter. It’s actually really neat to think that I grew up with the Harry Potter series, and now I seem to be partners in crime (tehehe pun definitely intended) with Cormoran Strike. I can relate to his love for the Arsenal football club, and his preference for Doombar (a British ale), because these are all things that concern me today that didn’t when I was younger.

The one thing I did not like, particularly in this novel, was how female characters were depicted in the novel. Every woman than Strike spends time with is described as this beautiful bombshell that makes every man’s head turn. His previous relationship of many years was with another stunning and model-esque woman with black hair and green eyes that every man wanted as a wife. But aside from her stunning looks, she’s got an awfully controlling and selfish personality.

The other female role is of course Robin, Strike’s secretary. I like how she is pushing traditional female roles and wanting to find a career instead of just a job until she gets married and settles down (not that there is anything wrong with that of course). She’s willing to put in the time to become a detective like Strike, despite her fiance’s protests and lack of understanding. I really respect and admire that about Robin. At the same time she is sort of ruined in my mind when Strike constantly notes how attractive she is and how, again, men stare at her all the time. I am not sure why that is the only feature that the two most common female characters have in common.

Verdict: Really great murder mystery read, with lots of references to British life and culture which I really enjoyed (maybe that’s a personal preference as I am currently living in the UK). Once you start you can’t put it down, and I like the practical and shrewd Cormoran Strike.

Teaser Tuesday: March 24

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teasertuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Can I just emphasize how excited I was for this book to arrive at my house? Kazuo Ishiguro hasn’t written a novel for nearly a DECADE and now has chosen to break his dry spell and bless us all with his latest work; The Buried Giant. I am elated!!! Without further ado.

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“If that’s how you’ve remembered it, Axl, let it be the way it was. With this mist upon us, any memory’s a precious thing and we’d best hold tight to it.”(85)

Does anyone else share my excitement about this novel?

Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

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Published: 2006

So, I’ve finally got around to writing this review. The reason I have been putting it off is because I have been busy immersed in The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. I often find myself getting excited about the next book before properly signing off on the one that I’ve just read. #bookwormproblems

Anyway, I was excited about picking up the second instalment in The Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson, after having read the first book in the summer (I can’t believe it’s been so long!). I was quite relieved when the author was generous enough to clarify and briefly summarize some of the main happenings from the previous adventure that Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander have endured. Quite honestly, I forgot some of the finer details.

Despite being grateful for his synopsis I was a little peeved at how slowly the book started off. I’d say the first 100 pages we follow Salander in the Caribbean not really doing much at all. Then I thought, surely whatever happens here must prove significant in later events but I did not find that to be true. Only after I read the book did I sort of look back at the beginning and found some peace in just getting to know Salander better. Perhaps this was Stieg Larsson’s purpose, helping us understand Salander a bit more. I found the first book to be more focused on Mikael, but in this one we definitely learn about Lisbeth’s history, so perhaps that was his intention.

After a rather slow beginning to the book, the real action starts. After a couple of Mikael’s friend’s get murdered (don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read this book so I won’t reveal their names), many questions pop up instantly. Who murdered them? Why would they want them dead? Could this have been prevented? Why were Lisbeth’s fingerprints all over the gun that killed them? The rest of the book we journey through the multiple scenarios and possible murder suspects.

Just like before, Larsson is not afraid to dwell into the dark side of Sweden’s political, judicial and police force. More interesting for me, is that we finally learn about Lisbeth’s haunted past including “when all the evil happened”. Once the murder occurred I could not put the book down. There were just too many questions left unanswered for me to stop reading. And nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for the ending. Once again, I am left waiting to get my hands on the last book in the series. I will not wait as long as I have done before!

Verdict: Loved following around a strong female character, turned into a really addictive read after the first 100 pages and really enjoyed his writing style. The only reason why I gave it a 4 is because of the slow first 100 pages!

Did you get into the Millennium series yet?

Teaser Tuesday: March 17

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teasertuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

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“And now, with all his experience of death and mutilation, Strike had to fight down the urge to vomit in the almost suffocating mingled stenches of chemical and corpse…Slowly and carefully, determined not to slip and fall even though he was desperate to regain fresh, clean, rain-washed air, Strike proceeded back down the tarnished stairs to wait for the police in the street.” (160)

What are you reading this week?

Book Review: Max Factor- The Man Who Changed the Faces of the World

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Published: 2011

Beauty cosmetics, or make-up if you will, is a multi billion dollar industry today. You have hundreds of different brands, some are very prestigious while others you can even find in the dollar store. But it has certainly not been like that for very long. Sure, women wore powders for centuries, but in reality only the elite could afford them and they were no where near the variety and quality of today. They were commonly used in theatre spectacles, but those chemical substances bear little resemblance to the finely crafted make-up that we enjoy today. And that is mostly to the plain genius and hard work of Max Factor.

Although Max Factor, the brand, is American, the man came from another part of the world; Poland. He was born there and became a wig apprentice. Due to his great skill and easy going personality he ended up being the main hairstylist and powder expert in Imperial Russian’s Tsar court. He being very well known, and respected and was paid handsomely. The real price he had to pay was pretty much his freedom. Because he was in the service of the royal family he could not start a family, and could not start his own shop which he very badly wanted. He ended up secretly marrying a girl and running away to America with her. That is where his real struggles and story began. That is your little teaser for the book, as I don’t want to give away too much!

He was such a versatile, persistent and hard working man, it’s very inspiring. He was not only a shrewd business man, but also he was the main chemist behind his products. It was his own experiments that he would depend on for creating new products. He not only specialized in make-up but also wigs. They were extremely popular in movies during the 1920s and 1930s, and he was heralded as the very best in the business at the time. He was very precise and had a strong vision of what he wanted his brand to represent; the absolute highest quality. For his wigs he only used real human hair, and would pay a handsome sum for unique hair colours. The cost was not only in the product however, it was also in the training of his employees. It took years to train up a employee to reach the standard he desired and it cost around $2000 per new employee, which was a hefty sum back then. It’s his amazing all-roundedness that is truly astounding and memorable.

Verdict: The book is very short, so don’t expect a lot of detail, but it gives a perfect overall image of this man and his business. It was a really easy and refreshing read. A real must read! The only downfall is that I would have liked to see some of the darker sides to him. He is sorted painted like this hero, but at times it seems a little unrealistic as he seemed to have no flaws at all.